Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three seasons at the Baltimore Sun and eight at the Star Tribune, before switching to the college football beat. He’s a Faribault, Minn., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He covered Jim Wacker’s Gophers for the Minnesota Daily and also wrote about USC, UCLA and the Rose Bowl for the Riverside Press-Enterprise before getting this chance to cover football again.
Email Joe to talk about the Gophers.
Well, I guess the race is on now, isn't it? Jerry Kill has a one-year head start on Urban Meyer, and we'll see who can win a national championship first.
Just kidding. But is interesting to think far, far ahead to Kill's first meeting with Ohio State's new coach, to wonder about the shape the two programs will be in after Kill's massive rebuilding project and Meyer's touch-up-around-the-edges tasks have been given time to mature. By the vagaries of the Big Ten's non-divisional schedule rotation, 2011 was the first season of a four-year layoff between the two schools, so both programs figure to look a lot different by the time the Gophers finally resume the series, probably with a visit the Horseshoe in 2015.
Will Kill have Minnesota's program on solid footing by then, strong enough in his fifth season (assuming he and the school both stay the course that long) to compete regularly with the Buckeyes? (And is that even possible anymore at Minnesota? The Gophers have won two of the past 38 meetings since 1966, so there's reason to believe that OSU's built-in advantages, like the ability to pay a head coach roughly $6 million a year, are just too big.)
And what will Meyer's Buckeye program look like by then? He's been nothing but successful at each of his three stops, and the Ohio native should have little trouble adjusting to the Big Ten style he grew up learning. And his "rebuilding" job at a school one year removed from six straight Big Ten titles is about five million times simpler than Kill's -- which makes the fact that he'll earn roughly five times more than Kill every year seem a little unfair, too. But the money will be worth it to OSU if Meyer A) beats Michigan, B) wins a few national championships, and C) beats Michigan again. Surely all of Columbus is imagining their new coach adding a few more fancy rings to the two he has already.
The dreams around here are much more modest; right now, the Gophers would settle for playing on Purdue's level. But Meyer's ascension makes for a handy benchmark, for an ambitious long-term goal. The clock is ticking now -- when the Buckeyes and Gophers meet again, will the outcome be in doubt? See you in four years.
One Gopher note today: Senior safety Kim Royston's 13 tackles, including his first career sack, earned him co-Defensive Player of the Week honors, the Big Ten announced. In sharing the award with Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David, Royston becomes the first Gopher defender so honored since defensive tackle Garrett Brown in 2009. Duane Bennett and Jordan Wettstein won the league's special-teams award earlier this year.
Royston will learn tonight whether he has been named to one of the All-Big Ten teams, which will be announced at 6:30 p.m. on BTN.
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